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Strategy for Australia Travel
Hi Lucky and friends,
My husband and I are new to travel hacking, having only been collecting miles and points for 3-4 months. Neither of us travels for our career, but we are working on building miles for a trip to Australia in the next 2-3 years. I know that awards travel to Australia is very difficult to find and can be very expensive for miles, especially since there are 2 of us. That is why I am trying to be realistic about this as a long-term goal to focus on. I’m not opposed to a little side travel to New Zealand or neighboring countries, especially if that helps with saving some miles, but I definitely want the focus to be Australia.
My hope it to fly on business class at the very least. Our home airport is Phoenix, so I know we will most likely have to connect out of LAX or DFW. The goal is the travel there for 2 weeks in the summer of 2017.
Right now, we are on our way to the following: 60,000 AAdvantage miles, 80,000 Chase Freedom, 50,000 Citi points, 50,000 AmEx points, and 20,000 BofA travel points. At this point, we haven’t really figured out a strategy for how we will redeem the points. My questions are:
1. Looking at the miles/points we currently have, is there somewhere we should put our focus for future credit cards?
2. If each of us has the same card (Chase Sapphire, for example), can we pool those points in one account to get more use out of them?
3. We each have different cards now. Would you recommend we sign up for the cards the other spouse has (to build on the programs we are already in)?
Thanks so much for any help, tips, pointers, etc!
[USER=1031]@Kali Pitten[/USER] Welcome. As your research has already accurately shown you, award space to Austraila is hard to find. Plus your redemption horizon is far into the future making devaluations and changes much more likely between now and then. I think your best bet is to identify a couple of redemption options and then start building direct and indirect options towards them (meaning direct mileage options and transferable points that can complement them).
With regards to your second question, each program has its own rules. With UR and TY points, you can combine them directly with your spouse. MR no longer allows direct combinations but you can transfer the points to the mileage account of an authorized user so you can still achieve the same purpose. Company specific programs (with a few exceptions) don’t usually allow this. So you would have to pay a fee to transfer your AA miles. However you can usually ticket for other people from your account or ask the agent to pull miles from both your accounts.
Lastly, yes, you should both apply for the cards and build up a strong balance in programs to give yourself the most flexibility.
The only tip that I can think of is too google options to hold Qantas space with BA points before switching to an AA award. I know people have had luck with that in the past but know that you’d have to build enough of an Avios balance to be able to do this and I’m not sure if it is worth it to you in the long run. Other than that pay attention to the newer Chase rules about UR earning cards and focus on those first and consider adding SPG to your points mix since that will be the only way to supplement your AA miles.
I’d suggest AS miles to fly AS metal to LAX, SFO or YVR, onwards to Australia via HKG with CX, all on one award. Also entitled to a stopover. From HKG CX flies to SYD, MEL, BNE, ADL, PER, DRW and CNS. F is 80k AS miles one way, J 60k. CX at present does not fly F to any destination in Aus, but mixed cabin awards are possible, so you could pay 80k for F, fly F transpacific and onwards to Aus in J.
CX J availability to Aus is reasonable outside of busy times (especially if you’re willing to fly separately, or in separate classes – premium economy for a day flight wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world). J availability to/from HKG from the US better, especially if you’re able to plan so far ahead. F availability for 2 pax tough. For all of this you can always book something workable then hope it can be improved with a last minute opening up of award space, which CX is pretty good about. AS charge $30 per pax for changes less than 30 days out.
Exact same idea can work with Korean, but there are lots of blackout dates, fewer destinations and departures to/from Aus, round trip only means less flexibility, and availability at the moment reportedly poor.
Plenty of time to acquire AS points, can even buy any shortage.
Something similar is also possible with SQ miles on SQ metal via SIN, but more miles, award space tougher to find, one more stop, more flying time, and your connecting flight from Phoenix will cost more miles.